Ugh. I know, I know – two sock posts in a row. I hate to do this to y’all because I know it’s boring AF for the non-knitters (and to be honest, I’m almost borderline boring myself at this point haha), but this is what I got as far as photos! I’ve been back for a couple of days, but shit’s been hectic and I haven’t had time to fix my hair and stand in front of a camera. So, you get socks! Merry Christmas!
Anyway, the truth is – even though they are socks, these totally aren’t boring because I made them and I endlessly entertain myself. So there’s that! :)
The pattern here is Little Cable Knee Highs, which is a free pattern from Purl Soho. Hey, yo, my knitters – who else looooves the Purl Bee? Favorite online knitting tutorials, hands-down. When I’m looking up a new technique – not just for knitting, but with anything, really – I find that I can’t really follow a video. I prefer a well-photographed tutorial with lots of words! In my experience, Purl Soho has some of the best – I especially love (and revisit, and revisit, and revisit) the ones for Kitchener Stitch and short rows. I find the new layout of the website really hard to navigate, btw, but that ain’t nothing Dr. Google can’t work around.
Anyway, Purl Soho has lots of beautiful, *free* patterns, and these Little Cable Knee Highs are pretty cute! I first saw the pattern when Michelle made a pair, and I decided that I needed a pair as well. Never mind that we are talking TALL-ASS socks knit in FINGERING WEIGHT yarn. Spoiler alert: these things took foreeeeever to finish.
I started these waaay back when I left for Peru in June, 6/4/15 to be exact. I cast on the first sock while waiting at the airport. I knew I wanted to bring a knitting project with me while we were traveling, but since I was just packing a carry-on (a backpack carry-on, nonetheless – for two weeks of travel! Whyyy), I didn’t have a lot of room for a big project. Socks seemed like a great idea because they are so tiny, and knee-high socks would keep me entertained for a really, really long time. So I took my sock project to Peru, where they were knitted all over Lima and Iquitos – even in the rainforest! These socks are so cultured now.
Still, two weeks later – I’d finished about half a foot. Then I put the entire project on hold in order to finish my Vianne project, since that one had a deadline. Once I picked them back up again, it was an endless circle of knitting and tiny cables until I finally finished back in September – just in time to wear them while I was in Portland, Maine! So, again – traveling socks!
Length of time aside, the project itself was fairly easy and mindless. These socks are knit toe-up, and the pattern is written for DPNs. I followed the DPN instructions for the foot, but once I got to the leg I switched to circulars for Magic Loop, which made things soooo much easier and faster. The little cable is really fun to knit and breaks up the monotony of knitting endless circles. Knitting 5″ of ribbing was not very fun, but I managed. I used a Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off for the BO, which ended up being a little too stretchy and I think doesn’t look as good. It doesn’t bother me enough to rip out and re-knit, though, but I did keep that in mind for the second sock. I also did a poor job with knitting the heel on the first sock, so it’s kind of sloppy – but again, I was able to do a better job on the second sock. That’s one good thing about having two socks to knit; it gives you a chance to improve the second go!
This was my first toe-up sock project, and I don’t think I like it very much – joining 8 stitches in the round is really, really hard! Those stitches are left live and grafted together after you finish the sock, which I somehow managed to mess up on my first sock – and as a result, there’s a strange little bump at the toe (I don’t even remember how I messed it up. I think I dropped a couple stitches and then tried to pick them up and just created a disaster. My knitting group meets at a bar, and while I probably should not drink and knit – I do, and drinking makes dropped stitches ok. Right?!). I was able to mostly block it out, though, so it’s no thing! For the second top, I grafted the toe closed as soon as I had enough knitted yardage to grab onto, which worked out quite well and meant that I was finished when it came time to bind off.
I bought the yarn at my local yarn store, Ewe & Company, in Kingston Springs TN. It’s Dream in Color Everlasting Sock Yarn and it was soooo nice to knit. I think the color is a bit too variegated for cables, so they don’t show up that great, but I’m ok with that because I think the socks turned out lovely regardless! This yarn was a major splurge for me – I needed 2 skeins, and they were $25/skein. So yeah, a pretty expensive pair of socks! It was part birthday gift to myself (don’t you buy yourself birthday gifts? Because you should, it’s the best), but I don’t think I’ll spend $50 on another pair of socks anytime soon hahaha.
That being said – the amount of money I dropped on these socks did make me more inclined to actually finish them, rather than let them sit in UFO purgatory once I started to get bored with how long they were taking, especially when I got to the second sock. I always consider my entertainment part of the price of anything I make as well (since I’m not spending that money going to, say, a movie or the bar. Bars other than knitting night, I mean :B), which I think is important. For me, sewing and knitting is just as much as entertaining/relaxing hobby as it is a way to clothe myself, so that is part of my consideration when it comes to my budget.
When it comes to buying the materials for these sorts of projects, I try not to cheap out too much. For ME (and I’m only speaking for myself – I know that budgets and the like can be a very sensitive subject for people, so I’m not trying to preach at anyone here!), I value quality over quantity. Rather than buy a bunch of cheap yarn and fabric for a dozen projects, I’d rather spend that whole wad on ONE really nice project. I know I’m going to value the time I spend working on the project, and I’m going to really put my best effort in with fit and ripping out mistakes. With cheaper materials, it’s easy for me to give up and get sloppy since shit was so inexpensive to begin with. But you better believe – if I’m spending $30 a yard on a nice piece of fabric or $80+ on a single sweater, I’m going to really do my best work so that I get my money’s worth out of it. Not to mention, the enjoyment I get from working with really nice materials! I’ve noticed that a lot of people who start with really cheap yarn or fabric are more likely to abandon a project (or leave mistakes because they don’t want to take the time to fix it) before it’s finished, because they didn’t invest a lot of money into it. Even if the materials were super cheap to begin with, that can add up over time!
This is not to say that the most expensive projects are always destined to be the best ones, or that it’s impossible to make something nice with cheaper materials. I know that budgets differ wildly, and while $20 might seem inexpensive to me, that might be a lot for someone else! But I do think there’s some value in spending as much as your budget can comfortably afford (whether it’s $10, $20, or $100 – enough that you have to really think about what you’re spending that money on, enough to make you sweat just a little bit) for a single project, and then giving that project your best effort so that you really get your money’s worth out of the end result. It makes you more conscious of what you’re buying, which means spending less in the long run. Especially at the rate that I plow through my projects – this makes me slow down and appreciate what I’m doing. All good things, in my book!
Anyway, I know everyone has a different perspective when it comes to budgeting for your crafts, and that’s just mine! I’d love to hear yours! Do you choose quality or quantity when you’re shopping for yarn or fabric? Does a more expensive material make you super careful with what you’re making, or do you get paralyzed at the thought of using it? Do you value inexpensive materials or not? You know my thoughts, now tell me yours!